• In this issue, (see cover) we have an article about some very exciting new construction projects in the city and there are more happening soon. I think that this is very important for Ventura for several reasons;
These projects are what “we” in the industry (my background) call “type V projects” meaning that they can be of wood frame construction. These type of projects employ workers of all different skills paying from $10 to up to $100 per hour, so they are a boost for our economy.
Also, a city needs to continue to evolve and to bring in new residents. I only wish we could build some executive style homes to provide housing for high wage earners so that they don’t work here, or have businesses here but live somewhere else.
• At a recent City Council meeting, the council (by a 7-0 vote) decided that the best use of the Harbor Church property is to allow single family homes to be built.
Some residents in the area wanted the building to become a community center (some didn’t) and many spoke at the council meeting. The community center advocates were very disappointed with the council’s decision even though the use of the property as a community center wasn’t even being considered by the council.
There were basically two reasons why the council wants to sell the property to a developer. When the city paid about $2.3 million for the property (in order to avoid going to court) it was with the understanding that action would be taken to quickly recover most of the money spent (complete recovery will not happen).
Also, the cost of converting the building to a community center (requiring lots of handicap upgrades) would be large and would bring traffic and congestion to this residential neighborhood, just as the church did. And would require very expensive upkeep and salaries.
There is also the slight chance that the VUSD might be interested in the property because it is right next to a school.
At this meeting, the Council also approved some startup funds for the proposed Kellogg Park in West Ventura. Not enough for much construction, but it is necessary to start in order to not lose grant money that was awarded to the project.
In the meantime, the Westside has probably what is the most comprehensive and utilized park in Ventura (the Westpark Community Center). In fact, I’m not sure why people say that that the Westside is underserved when Westpark is located there (and a Boys & Girls Club).
• Did anybody ever think that, in 2017, we would be friends with Russia and enemies with Mexico? Is Canada next and then the rest of the world? If you’re not concerned with what is going on, you should be!
• All of Ventura’s water supply comes from either the Ventura River, groundwater and/or Lake Casitas. Even though we are having a nice rainy season (about 15”, which is more than our average) we are not out of the woods yet. The lake is still less than 40% full. The use of recycled water should increase in the future.
The City Council has taken action to consider another water source by authorizing a study to look at design, water flow, and environmental impacts of other sources.
The United Water Conservation District, Casitas Municipal Water District and Calleguas Municipal Water District are considering being part of a regional effort. All of these agencies could be involved in the ability to transfer water between districts in times of high drought. The study will look at the potential benefits for all the agencies involved.
The idea is to store water during rainy seasons, so there is water “in the bank” when needed. New piping would need to be installed to bring some of this additional water to Ventura. Imported water would be much more expensive but could be necessary if the high rains don’t continue for several more years.
• Ventura’s 2017-18 budget will include millions of dollars of new money from Measure O, the half-cent sales tax voters approved in November. The new rate goes into effect on April 1, and the city will receive its first partial payment in July.
The measure included the formation of a seven-member citizen oversight committee to make “recommendations“ regarding how the money should be spent.
When this committee is formed, we all must be the committee that keeps an eye on the council’s committee.
In my opinion, an important use of this money will be to help our homeless population. City Manager Mark Watkins stated, “The final goal is to expand resources to the homeless population, both by offering more programs to those who want assistance and directing law enforcement resources toward those who don’t follow the rules.”
New Councilmember Matt LaVere will be on the council’s homeless subcommittee and should bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to this ongoing problem.